Maida Vale woman hid her mother’s death so she could collect her pension for THREE years

Maria Blacklock has admitted fraud and money laundering (Pic: Central News)

Maria Blacklock has admitted fraud and money laundering (Pic: Central News) - Credit: CENTRAL NEWS

A greedy fraudster from Maida Vale hid her mother’s death for THREE years so she could collect her pension in a ‘callous and cold-hearted’ scam.

Maria Blacklock, of Chippenham Road, pocketed a total of £66,000 by using fake documents to fool officials into believing her mother was alive and living in Las Vegas.

The 58-year-old was snared when an ex-friend, who she owed $14,000, tipped-off Phoenix Group, the private pension company that was making the payments, and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

The City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED) were called in and they launched an investigation which uncovered the audacious swindle.

Inner London Crown Court heard Blacklock and her mother moved out to Las Vegas in the mid-2000s where she died on June 24, 2011.

After her death Blacklock sent falsified life certificates to Phoenix Group and used her mother’s bank cards to withdraw and spend the pension money being paid into her account.

The sum was a total of £31,320 in state pension payments and £35,111 in payments from Phoenix Group.

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Through their enquiries detectives discovered Blacklock was using her mother’s pension payments to fund her lifestyle and to gamble in Las Vegas.

The friend who revealed the fraud became suspicious when she saw Blacklock was in possession of her mother’s bank card.

In March last year, two IFED officers travelled to Las Vegas where they gathered statements from Blacklock’s former friends and associates and discovered Blacklock had forged a Las Vegas doctor’s signature on a life certificate completed in her mother’s name.

The doctor confirmed the certificate was faked and that the surgery stamp used was not genuine.

Officers also tracked down her mother’s death certificate from the Southern Nevada Health District which confirmed that she had died three years before.

Blacklock, who returned to London in September 2013 after her husband fell ill, was arrested at her home in November last year.

Yesterday she admitted fraud by false representation and money laundering offences and will be sentenced on September 6.

Simon Styles, an IFED financial investigator, said: “In my 30 years as a police officer and investigator I have never come across an act that was as callous and cold-hearted as this. From our enquiries, we saw that at the time immediately prior to and after her mother’s death, Blacklock was at various casinos gambling away her mother’s money.

“She deliberately set out to defraud not only the insurer who was paying her mother’s private pension, but also the DWP and the taxpayer who ultimately picks up the bill for the state pension payments.

“Blacklock thought that being in Las Vegas would mean she wouldn’t get caught out, but wherever we find evidence of fraud or wrongdoing, we will do all we can to bring that person to justice and international borders will not prevent us from doing so.”